Tern Folding Bicycles Are Unfolding

Tern bicycles was created in 2011 by Joshua & Florence Hon ( mother and son ), and quickly became a major player in the folding bicycle market. Joshua is the son of Dr. David Hon, creator of the Dahon folding bicycle company, while Florence was Dr. David Hon’s wife. Soon after their launch they were pulled into court by Dahon. In the complaint, Dahon claimed both Joshua and Florence breached their fiduciary duties as officers of Dahon. The complaint reads like a soap opera, but to summarize, it states that Joshua and Florence took intellectual property from Dahon and put it into a corporation solely held by them. They also took the Dahon.com URL from Dahon. The case was settled out of court in 2013. This was an ominous beginning for Tern…..things got worse fast.

On June 27 of 2013, Tern, in conjunction with the CPSC in the USA, issued a recall for limited Eclipse and Verge models. In the recall notice it was stated that two frames failed just in front of the folding hinge. Then in December of 2013, a rider in the UK created a disturbing thread on Tern’s forum. His name is Lee Tibbets, and he titled it “Tern Link D8 frame shearing in two”. He stated that his frame broke in two while riding, he hit the pavement and was knocked unconscious, then hospitalized. Later he found that he had torn cartilage. On January 27 of 2014, a user named re-tern from the UK posted that the same has happened to him. He states,”The frame snapped suddenly without any warning whatsoever around the weld on the front part of the frame where the folding hinge is attached resulting in me coming off the bike and smashing my left hand on the floor cutting and fracturing my index finger and heavily cutting abd bruising my right elbow and right leg.“ Tern representatives posted nice notes of support for the injured customers. Then a user named adr posted,”the same thing happened to me” on February 19, 2014. He later states, “Without no warning I was flung onto the road injuring my arm and hip.” On March 25, 2014 Johnathan_J posted, “Well just comming back from the hospital…. “ his bike failed as well.

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About this time the Tern employees seemed to stay away from the forum. Other than a note from Josh Hon, the Tern staff became much more silent. On April 1, 2014 jfx posted the same happened to him on a 6 month old Eclipse P9. All the previous faults were on Link frames, hence this was the first different frame. The very next day the forum became private, so only registered users could read posts. Previously, the board had been public for all to see. This did not go over well with some users, and the volume of posts to the forum exploded. Then on April 4, 2014 jimothwald posted that his Verge x30h snapped. Things died down for a little until Christineengland, a 52 year-old woman that weighs 140lbs, reported that her Verge X10 broke in half, causing injuries and mental trauma. She was on a bike tour and states that the biking part of the trip is over. This was the 7th frame failure in the UK and third different style frame (4 Links, 1 Eclipse, and 2 Verge ). At best, Tern has been very slow to respond to its UK customers, and at worst this behavior would seem negligent. All the frames have broken in the same place, and none of the affected individuals had a clue anything was wrong until it was too late.

If you have a Tern, please be careful, and please share this information with anyone that owns a Tern folding bicycle.

The information contained in this article was compiled and submitted by a folding bike enthusiast, and we are passing it along as a service to other cyclists. 

– Brian

Christineengland's Tern
Christineengland’s Tern


Lee Tibbetts' so-called two Tern unicycles
Lee Tibbetts’ so-called two Tern unicycles


Johnathan_J's Tern
Johnathan_J’s Tern



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Stephen Browne

A little more objectivity please. Under what conditions were the bikes used, were the weight limits for the frames exceeded, were the bikes regularly serviced and inspected, what age were the bikes, how many miles had they travelled and so on.
I agree that Tern’s slow or lack of appropriate response is very poor.
Metal welds will fail catastrophically i .e. without warning. It would appear that that is what has happened here. I have an Eclipse S11i and fortunately no sign of cracking around the welds but I will pay close attention to them from here on in.
Interestingly I believe that there has been a compulsory recall of some Tern bikes in the US that were manufactured between certain dates. This would suggest that Tern are aware of what the problem is and when it crept into the manufacturing process. I’m guessing incompatible alloys in the welding process. Just a guess though.
It would be interesting to know how many of each frame has been been sold and what percentage of those numbers have failed. I have seen some very dramatic failures of metal frames and carbon fibre frames over the years so Tern is far from alone in this area.
Their poor response is what may be setting them apart. Quite possibly they may be being intimidated by over litigious law practices. Some claims can be outrageous – pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of earnings and missed oportunity are OK but really long term psychological dammage and a life long fear of bicycles and the associated social stigma that goes with all that. I thought bike riders were made of sterner stuff.

Peter Thomas

Exactly the same thing happened to my Verge X20 last week. Sudden and catastrophic frame failure at the front end of the OCL joint. I was clipped into the pedals so had no chance to avoid disaster, and my face hit the ground at 20+ mph, causing a fractured skull, and extensive facial cuts, bruising and abrasions.
I was lucky. I was in hospital for two days (although have follow-up appointments). I could easily have been killed, or had a severe brain bleed instead.

If you have access to the Tern forums, my post is at http://www.ternbicycles.com/forum/tern-verge-x20-frame-shearing-two which shows pictures of the damage to both the bike and myself. Be quick – I expect Tern to delete the post shortly.

Peter Thomas

Just noticed the request above for objectivity. Here’s the details on my Verge X20 as an addendum to my earlier post.
Under what conditions was the bike used? Light use on smooth roads and cycle paths only for 1hr per day 3-4 days per week.
Were the weight limits for the frames exceeded? No, I weigh approx 70Kg, often with an additional 5Kg rucksack.
Was the bikes regularly serviced and inspected? Yes, every two weeks plus after every time it rains.
What age was the bike? Approx 9-10 months.
How many miles? Approx 2-3000 miles


I’d check your S11i too even if it’s not in the recall range. I just had mine fail yesterday commuting across London at rush hour. Fortunately only bike, helmet and skin broken, I don’t want to think what would have happened if I wasn’t going slowly for red lights ahead and in a break in the traffic.

Pictures on Flickr

Tern Verge S11i. Regular but light use (I’m not racing) across London approx 8 miles a day, 4 days a week for 12 months. Regularly checked and inspected myself (I build my own bikes usually). I weigh up to 85kg max inc. rucsac. 12 months old. Failed without warning. I won’t be riding a Tern ever again.



Does anyone know if the newer Tern frames are impacted? I’m specifically interested in the 2015 Verge X20.



Sadly, I would suggest avoiding them completely. Just not worth the risk to me.


18 months ago, my 6 month old Tern Eclipse P9 broke in half while I was riding home from work on the road. It was used for daily commutes to work of about 8 miles along well paved cycle paths and roads.
Specifically, the frame had failed along the welding of the OCL joint (the same as all the pictures here). Before I returned it to Evans cycles, I had it inspected by a qualified third party who was of the opinion that the welding was not of a high enough standard, causing the frame to break. From the very start, Evans were adamant that the frame had failed because I had failed to maintain it properly. They categorically denied there was any manufacturing defect with the frame, but at the same were unable to comment on the welding quality because they did not have the necessary expertise to do so (their words). I had the impression at the time that they were primarily concerned with absolving themselves of any blame in the accident. After eventually having to contact their managing director to get a refund and to try to highlight the danger that was(is?) affecting some Tern frames, I put the whole unfortunate (potentially fatal) incident behind me vowing to never buy from Evans or ride a Tern bike again (being aware that mine was not a isolated case). During this, Tern kept very quiet and the only communication I received from them was that I return my bicycle to Evans as soon as possible.

Evans obviously haven’t updated their data, as last week I received a product recall email from them asking me to stop riding my Eclipse immediately and to return it to them as soon as possible. I contacted their help-desk by phone and they confirmed the recall is due to unsafe frames.

It is my opinion that Evans’s refusal to even consider that there was a fault with the frame has contributed to a delay in the product recall.

I know that anything that can be built can go wrong – but there have been quite a few different models of Tern bikes that have all been affected by the same issue and there is obviously a problem in the manufacturing process somewhere. I don’t agree with the logic that so many tens of failures in so many tens of thousands of bikes manufactured is acceptable. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.


I’m surprised that no one has been killed. Luck is on our side.

Joe Wiemels

This is an old forum but a Tern bike I bought in 2016 just failed last Thursday and sounds exactly what has been going on for years with others. I never knew about this issue with Tern bikes since I hadn’t checked the bike forums in a couple of years (life gets in the way of internet sometimes). 20 inch verge s11, spontaneously broke, I wiped out and ended up in the trauma unit of the local hospital with deep stitches, amnesia, broken bones in sinus etc. I will recover fine but wondering how to respond to this issue, just starting here with sharing information.


Joe, sorry to hear that you’re another victim. I’ve included a couple of links that may help. Personally, I would hope they see the importance of compensating you. If not, you should probably consider legal advice.



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